The best starting hands, such as AK, AQ and high pairs, should always be played in Hold’em no matter if it’s fixed, pot or no limit. These hands are often in good, or great, shape pre-flop, so it’s obvious that you want to bet and raise with them. There are, however, starting hands that are playable in games with a certain betting structure and at the same time unplayable in other games. Let’s look at a type of Texas holdem hands that can change in value depending on the betting structure – suited connectors.
Suited connectors are the type of hand that made Doyle Brunson famous. These hands that have both straight and flush possibilities, like 6h7h or TsJs, are popular because they can flop a well-disguised big hand or draw. The question becomes how useful these types of hands are in fixed-limit Texas hold’em.
Suited Connectors in Limit Hold’em
In general, suited connectors have much more power in a no-limit hold’em than in a fixed limit hold’em. Since in no-limit hold’em the objective is to win an opponent’s entire stack, you can afford to take many shots with unusual hands for the one time that you will flop big, assuming your target will pay you off. In fixed-limit, the idea is to win and save bets, so putting money in the pot with a hand that is unlikely to hit is generally unwise. Remember that no-limit is a game of big pots and limit is a game of big cards. That being said, there may be times where suited connectors can be profitable in limit hold’em.
When the Game is Very Loose
Usually in fixed-limit hold’em the amount you win when you hit a suited connector hand does not make up for all the times you went for it and fell short. However, in a very loose game – common in online Texas holdem – this may not be the case. If you are in a game where multiple players are seeing bets and raises to the river with little regard to the flop, some of these hands become much more profitable, providing you know how to play them and can get away from them when they are beaten.
When the Game is Very Tight
This seems counter-intuitive; if these hands are good for super-loose games, how can they be good for super-tight ones. The reason that suited connectors can be playable in super-tight games is twofold. First of all, if you hit your straight or flush, you are more likely to have the best hand, since your opponents are playing premium cards and are unlikely to be playing hands just because they are connected or suited. Second of all, in a very tight game, bluffing comes back into the arsenal, and you can win some of these suited connector hands with pure aggression even if you do not hit it.
When You are in Position
Playing suited connectors in early position of a fixed-limit hold’em game is often a mistake, because if someone after you raises and everyone folds to you, it is correct for you to fold, even though this wastes a bet, as the opportunity to win a big pot is not present. In late position, you can already see if the pot will be raised and what kind of odds you are getting on your tricky hand and you will be in an ideal position to extract extra money if you hit or get a free card if you miss.